Everyone has a favorite old game series that they’d love to see make a comeback, but modernizing a long-dormant franchise requires an agile touch. Not only should you please the old fans – who see their old favorites through nostalgic pink glasses – but you also have to find a way to make the game more attractive to a newer audience. Luckily for longtime Sega and beat them up, Streets of Rage 4 is adept at the tightrope of classic and modern appeal while breaking some heads at the same time. This is our Streets Of Rage 4 Review.
Streets Of Rage 4 Review: About
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
- Developer: DotEmu, Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games
- Publisher: DotEmu, Yooreka Studio
- Genres: Beat ’em up
- Release Date: April 30, 2020
Streets Of Rage 4 Review: Official Trailer Video
Streets Of Rage 4 Review: Gameplay
Streets of Rage 4 takes place ten years after the third game and unites Axel and Blaze to uncover an evil plot conceived by the children of the uber-antagonist Mr. X. Two new fighters are joining them: Cherry, a hard-rocking young woman with graceful moves and (literal) killer guitar riffs, and Floyd, a cybernetically enhanced hulk who may not have the speed or high jumps, but certainly has countless ways to match to raise metal fists in someone’s business.
As the story unfolds, you will meet old and new characters, sometimes in surprising places. However, don’t expect much from the plot, as it exists merely to take you to new and exciting locations where you pound a villain gallery of enemies on the sidewalk. And there is a fair amount of pavement available. The 12 levels in Streets of Rage 4 offer a lot of variation in landscapes, obstacles, and enemies. While the clean, crisp lines of the new art are very different from the low-resolution, grainy pixel look fans have come to love, the hand-drawn HD characters and backgrounds look spectacular and are full of fun details and little Easter eggs that I will surprise you.
The stages are quite typical beat-’em-up settings – a dive bar, some sewers, alleys, Chinatown – but the animations of crowds, steam, critters, and machines make these archetypal stages feel fresh and exciting. Equally outstanding is the soundtrack, a techno/dance-inspired collection of hot beats from Eastern and Western game music composers, including veteran Streets by Rage alumni Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima.
Of course, excellent visuals and music are nothing without the gameplay to back it up, and SoR4 delivers that pretty well. The controls are simple to pick up and, once you know them a bit better, are a lot of fun to experiment with, as punches, power moves, and special abilities can be chained together for smooth, satisfying combos. Every character has a different specialty: Blaze does some wild acrobatics that can juggle enemies in mid-air. At the same time, Floyd uses his massive cyber arms to defeat enemies with over-the-screen throws and two-person main battles.
As in most beat them ups, Streets of Rage 4 puts you in situations where a massive horde of enemies outdoes you. In the genre tradition, you have access to special moves that help to clear crowds and grant temporary invincibility at the cost of a bit of your health bar – but in a clever twist, Streets of Rage 4 lets you earn back that spent health through enemies without being hit. Each character also uses ‘star’ moves which, when triggered, do massive damage to everything in their path. These are very limited and can be supplemented with unique items in the levels, so they are still best kept for critical moments.
Streets of Rage 4 wages a formidable battle. There are various levels of difficulty that players can chew on. However, if you’re still struggling, you can gain extra health and lives – at the cost of points earned used for unlocking and ranking. However, it is quite annoying that the difficulty of SoR4 is not a linear curve. Some stages are considerably shorter than others, and there are several points where out of the blue, it gets a lot messier when strong opponents spawn hazards in awkward places.
The boss fights are particularly uneven – you may be fighting an opponent with a reasonably simple pattern on one stage and then absolutely get wrecked by the final boss of the next. Very often on a “super armor” mechanic (where enemies can be damaged but not stunned or knocked down) for many of the boss fights is also frustrating as it often feels like an unfair way for boss characters to gain an extreme advantage over you.
An average start-to-finish playthrough takes about two hours, but depending on how many times your game is over, it may take a little longer to see the end. It’s quite long for an arcade-style linear beat-em-up, but still very short if you’re the type, you need to play a game once. However, there is a repeat incentive: earning points while playing unlocks new modes, gallery extras, and retro variations of characters from previous games.
As you use these new characters and increase your difficulty, you gain more potential points, and the challenge increases. Sometimes it feels like some of the extras didn’t get as much attention as the main game. The “retro soundtrack” is just old Genesis and Game Gear Streets of Rage tracks seemingly randomly placed in the levels of the game. Certain unlockable characters have a huge advantage in dealing with damage – so much so that some of the most challenging areas of SoR4 almost trivial.
All in all, however, Streets of Rage 4 review is an enjoyable comeback for this long-dormant series. It looks decent, sounds great, and plays quite well. Even if the experience is reasonably short, it’s the kind of game that you and your friends can easily play and replay. If you’re up for a classic fighting action with a modern twist, these furious streets are calling your name.
Luckily for longtime Sega and beat them up, Streets of Rage 4 is adept at the tightrope of classic and modern appeal while breaking some heads at the same time.